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8 essential Microsoft business apps for Android phones

Who's the busiest developer on Android these days? Some of the most impressive business apps are coming from an unlikely source, with Microsoft's business apps appearing on the Google Play Store and getting rave reviews.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 9 Ed Bott/ZDNet

An unlikely source of excellent Android apps

Microsoft and Google might be arch-enemies, but that hasn't stopped Redmond from making sure Android users have lots of Microsoft apps to choose from.

In the Google Play Store, you'll find more than 60 apps from Microsoft. There's a good selection of games and entertainment options, including companion apps for Xbox and Bing-branded alternatives to Google's search products.

In this gallery, I focus on eight popular and useful business apps. This isn't a complete listing. In particular, if your company uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM or the Intune management suite, you should  look at your options there.

But expect to be surprised at how capable the Microsoft options are on the world's most popular mobile platform.

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2 of 9 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Microsoft Outlook Preview (formerly Acompli)

Microsoft Outlook Preview in the Google Play Store

Microsoft purchased the Acompli app late last year, and the newly integrated development team wasted no time in pushing out a major update under a familiar name.

Microsoft Outlook for Android supports Exchange, Gmail, Outlook.com/Hotmail, and IMAP accounts. (Sorry, POP accounts, you're out of luck.)

The biggest innovation in the Outlook mobile app is a unified inbox that groups important messages  into a Focused tab and shunts everything else to Other.

The app's other signature feature is the ability to swipe left to hide a message and schedule it to reappear in your inbox later when you're ready to deal with it. Swipe right to archive messages.

The Preview app still has a few rough edges, especially compared to its iOS cousin, but it's still polished and worth installing.

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3 of 9 Ed Bott/ZDNet

OneNote

OneNote in the Google Play Store

I use OneNote on every device I own, without exception. The Android version syncs with notebooks on OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, making it easy for me to keep personal and business information organized.

All the familiar OneNote features are there in the Android version. I especially like the ability to add a home screen widget so I can quickly create an audio note and have it appear on every synced device.

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4 of 9 Ed Bott/ZDNet

OneDrive (personal and business)

OneDrive in the Google Play Store

A recent update to the OneDrive clients on Android and iOS adds a much-needed feature that will be coming to Windows later.

Previously, the OneDrive and OneDrive for Business clients were separate and decidedly unequal apps. Now both features are integrated into a single app, which means you can switch between work and personal files with a tap or two.

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5 of 9 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Lync 2013 (unified communications)

Lync 2013 in the Google Play Store

For Microsoft shops, Lync (soon to be rebranded as Skype for Business) is an essential unified communications app.

It allows quick and secure text, voice, and video messaging with your co-workers.

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6 of 9 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Microsoft Office Mobile

Microsoft Office Mobile in the Google Play Store

Businesses live and die by Microsoft Office documents (sorry, Google Apps). So it's a little disappointing that the fully featured Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for Android are still tablet-only.

On Android phones, for now, you'll have to settle for Office Mobile, which offers rudimentary viewing and editing of Office documents.

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7 of 9 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Remote Desktop

Microsoft Remote Desktop in the Google Play Store

Don't try this app (or the beta version here) unless you've got a phone with a big screen. Shrinking a Windows desktop (or server) to a phone-sized display is something you do because you have to, nor because you want to.

But when you need the ability to connect to a server and run some tasks remotely, it's nice to know you can get the job done quickly and securely without having to track down a full-sized PC.

And the touch-based navigation tools are impressive when you need them.

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8 of 9 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Azure Authenticator

Azure Authenticator in the Google Play Store

If you have an Office 365 Enterprise account, you should have multi-factor authentication enabled. It's the best protection against having your email account compromised by phishing or other attacks.

Many online services use Google Authenticator or its clones for 2-factor authentication. Office 365 and Azure use this custom app, which is easy to set up and use.

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9 of 9 Ed Bott/ZDNet

Sunrise Calendar

Sunrise Calendar in the Google Play Store

The newest member of the Microsoft family was just acquired this week, so don't expect to see the Microsoft brand name for a while.

But Sunrise Calendar adds some interesting twists to mobile appointment and event tracking. Yes, it can show you your Exchange, Gmail, or iCloud calendar. But it also integrates with dozens of other services that have their own calendars, including Facebook, TripIt, and LinkedIn.

If the Acompli acquisition is any guide, expect to see a quick update for this app very soon.

Does Microsoft offer the best Android Office suite? (Android Office app showdown)

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